Thursday, May 31, 2007

Expressed anal glands.

Off on my holidays tomorrow which means our little Jack Russell / Lakeland crossbreed Terrier dog is off on his holidays too. He looks a lot like this and is staying with our friends who also have a dog of their own.

The last couple of days he has been scooting along the carpet which is a sympton of blocked anal glands. A lot of dogs suffer from this rather common complaint and the solution is to take your dog along to the vets where a gloved hand is inserted into your pet's bottom. The vet will then gently push these anal glands to express the fluid to refresh your pet from this discomfort. There is obviously a fee charged for this service.

What a surprise for me this morning when the vet tells me that yesterday she had seen a new notice detailing a change of policy within the Park Veterinary Group at Sanitorium Rd, Cardiff. If your dog needs it's anal glands expressed, nails clipped or stitches removed after treatment then you can see a veterinary nurse who will perform this service free of charge.

This is a marvelous change of policy and will save most pet owners a lot of money. It also means that the qualified vet can then concentrate on more profitable work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel.

Much has been written about the Channel 4 documentary Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel. Some people want this broadcast stopped. I think that Channel 4 show continue to stand up to these people and broadcast the programme as it has been made by the director. The viewer will know what images are likely to be shown and if they do not wish to view them there is always the off button. This is television and the viewer has the power to decide what television they wish to view.

Family, friends and former colleagues of Diana, Princess of Wales, and some Conservatives who are leading the growing clamour for the programme to be shelved, should be ignored. They have no right to decide what the rest of our nation should be allowed to watch on television in the comfort of our own homes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

When a government turns on it's own people.

The situation continues at the Nahr El-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. It makes me very sad to feel that a government can turn on it's own people and shell their homes with ammunition. Many victims have left the camp but others remain. There were reports on my television that some people who tried to leave had to dodge sniper fire. If they were not being bombed by the Lebanese Army then they could be picked off by snipers inside their camp. To think that these camp dwellers have paid taxes to the Lebanese government and then have the army who they have paid for shell their homes, is awful.

There should be a peaceful solution to this mess . To order the army to attack the camp again is not the answer as these fighters are determined and prepared for a long fight to the bitter end. I hope that common sense will prevail and a negotiated settlement is reached very soon. Sending in the army to force an end to the activities of Fatah Al-Islam will only result in more avoidable deaths and injuries among the innocent civilians. Armies should only be deployed to defend a home population - never to attack it. This makes our 1980's miners' strike violent clashes with the Police seem like a sunday school picnic.

I feel for the people trapped in this situation. These people are innocent victims of fighting between very powerful groups yet their government is not helping them. America is inflaming the situation by sending more weapons and ammunition to squash these rebel forces within the Nahr El-Bared refugee camp.

Hezbollah have called for negotiations and a peaceful end to this crisis. I hope the Lebanon government listens to Hassan Nasrallah as he speaks a lot of sense and is representative of a lot of people. Fatah Al-Islam is a dedicated group and should be taken seriously. They are not naughty school boys but a dialogue has to be opened with them so that further damage will not happen.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Technorati .

There are many ways to navigate around the blogosphere and many free tools available. I look at other people's blogs and wonder if I can improve mine. I wondered if people have linked to my blog and noticed that Technorati provide a service where you can see who does link to your blog. So I have signed up to Technorati today and edited the template of this blog to install the code and spiders that provide this additional service. You can see it on the sidebar on the rights below the links section.

Technorati does not just cover blogs but also does videos, music, movies, games, DVDs and news. I scrolled down this popular listing of videos tonight and found a link for the video of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes car crash in which this lady dies in this video taped crash. The full story of the singer's death in 2002 and the broadcast of this footage by the television channel VH1 can be found on the Washington Post website...

The wreck clip was included with her family's consent, and director Lauren Lazin ("Tupac: Resurrection") says that after viewing more than 200 hours of raw footage she was convinced that Lopes would have wanted it that way.

Another sad death saved on the internet for future generations to view and be aware of the dangers of driving on our roads. You only get one chance to get things right when driving a motor vehicle. As this video shows things can happen very quickly indeed and you cannot have the benefit of hindsight. I hope that showing this video on the likes of You Tube brings some motorists to their senses, the public highway is not another Playstation game where you can restart easily when you crash.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The joy of smoke-free pubs.

The weeks have rolled by since smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places here in Wales. I love going out to pubs with my wife for a drink and a meal. It is marvelous that we no longer have to put up with the scourge of cigarette smoke in public houses. The joy of having a drink and a meal in these smoke-feee pubs is very real for me. No longer am I anxious about trying out a new pub for fear of having my enjoyment and the cost of the visit ruined from cigarette smoke. Visiting a pub is now a gauranteed joy which is not put a risk when new customers arrive at the same pub.

We are going on holiday shortly to Morocco and there is a little doubt in my mind. We will be at liberty of other holiday makers smoking in enclosed public spaces. From experience I am aware that many British holiday makers take advantage of lower excise duties on tobacco and chain-smoke in the holiday resorts. I hope that my holiday experience will not be diminished by the actions of the chain-smoking customers who I do not have to tolerate back home in wonderful smoke-free Wales.

On the 1st July 2007 smoking in enclosed public spaces will also be banned over the Severn Bridge in England. Then I will be able to enjoy a smoke-free pub lunch with my parents in North Somerset. Sorry Dad, outside you go with your pipe!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Madeleine McCann and the cyber-squatters.

This story rolls on in our newspapers and has generated a lot of interest on the internet. An official website has been set up which gives the web surfer the opportunity to donate to a fund which aims to help find Madeleine, assit with the expenses incurred by her family and when this situation is resolved to help other families in similar situations.

Madeleine was abducted on the 3rd May 2007 and the newspapers have run with this story every day. Editors must be having difficulty in keeping this story fresh and today there are reports about cyber-squatters cashing in on this story...

However, more than 20 websites with similar names have been created in the past three days to promote businesses including chat rooms, estate agents and dating sites.

The McCann family has condemned the “typo squatters”, who make money from advertising links on the bogus websites.

...This is very sad and demonstrates the evils of capitalism. The businesses who advertise on these cyber-squatter websites who prey on the web surfers' bad keyboard skills or literacy show no ethics at all. There is a genuine market for all products and services but people should search for these and not be misdirected by unscrupulous businesses. Someone will always make a profit out of a tragedy but this cyber-squatting is below the belt and should be condemmed. People have a right to choose how they spend their money and I hope people abandon the businesses who aim to profit from Madeleine's abduction.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Car number plates.

Here in the UK some car owners buy a registration plate to reflect the owner. This is rather sad and generally indicates more money than sense. I did spot a car number plate the other day that made me smile. The registration number was C8NGO with a yellow plastic screw obscuring the 8 to spell out CONGO. The driver of this car was black, very black skinned!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where has the trust gone?

A notice has gone up in my workplace requiring all coach drivers to provide 3 to 5 items of personnal identification to enable the company or Cardiff County Council to run a Criminal Records Bureau check on the employee. All because one of the driving duties involves a short school run. This school journey is operated on a service bus fitted with CCTV and the driver has no contact with the schoolchildren because a guide is employed by the council.

Every driver has to be checked with no exceptions. They are treating us like children and not to be trusted. Children should be taught by their parents and schools to be street-wise and cautious of other people. Coach drivers should not be viewed with suspicion and forced to prove their identities. All people should be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

What is the value of this identity? Very limited as the television show on Channel 4 the other night clearly demonstrated. Bennett Arron showed just how easy it is to make a new identity, even going as far as obtaining a new driving licence with his photograph on, bearing the name of ex-Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Therefore there is nothing to stop any PCV driver who is on the Sex Offenders Register from creating a new identity for himself and become employed on a school run.

What offends me about this whole identity and criminal record checking is that the trust of employees has gone, gone forever. It is awful feeling that having worked for the same employer for 10 years, clearly nobody is trusted anymore. To employ staff and then show that the state does not trust them is awful. This is in addition to the regular random alcohol breath testing and the provision to take saliva swabs from the driver's mouth.

What will happen next year? Maybe it will be compulsory DNA testing of all PCV drivers and the following year the fitment of embedded microchips under the skin to prove the identity of the driver. Time will tell in what is quickly becoming a big brother state.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Not the chill-out zone.

I saw the back of a coach in London the other day. It was liveried with a cartoon style advert featuring a tag line of the chill-out zone. The operator was City of Oxford Motor Services, trading as Oxford Bus and the graphics showed a female cartoon character sat alone on a double seat with her legs fully stretched out infront of her.

This is poetic licence and the reality is very different from this cartoon. A coach can never be a chill-out zone, far from it.

In the real world every passenger must wear a seat belt whilst seated. This is the law and is not just best-practice. This cartoon passenger is clearly not wearing a seat belt.

Legroom is very limited on coaches and I have never seen a coach where the passenger can fully stretch their legs out infront of them.

This cartoon character is sitting on a double seat alone, very nice but in reality with real passenger loadings, is very rare. The reality is that she will be sat next to a complete stranger who may be male, obese or suffering from body odour. Not your ideal travelling partner especially when his dimensions encroach into your personal space with your clothing rubbing cheek to cheek.

This advertisement is clearly unrepresentative no matter how much the operator tries to talk the service upwards.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Women, clothes and holidays.

What is it with women and clothes when they are packing for their holidays? They always want to have something new to take away with them. Clothes are not single-use items but are washable and can be worn again and again. Other holiday makers are not bothered about how new your clothes are.

Most women have so many clothes in their wardrobes they have such a great choice that they do not need any more. Yet they agonise about what to take and what they can buy.

I wonder how long it will be before the likes of Matalan produce a holiday pack for say around £100. Simply pay the store £100 and you will get a suitcase ready packed with new clothes in your size. You take this suitcase on holiday and wear these new clothes simply once. Leave the suitcase and worn, dirty clothes at your holiday destination as rubbish or a tip for the room maid. Then when you arrive back at your UK airport you do not have to wait for your luggage on the carousel and can simply go straight home without any delay.

Why did not women think of this before?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tony Blair makes the newspapers.

What a disappointment today in The Independent newspaper. 20 whole pages devoted to Tony Blair's decision to stand down as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party here in the UK. Big deal, man resigns from a job and the editor wastes 20 whole pages on the story. This story has rumbled on for months and has bored most newspaper readers. I could not care less whether Tony Blair stood down from his job yesterday, today, in the future or never. He was elected as a representative for Sedgefield and as a leader of the Labour Party. That is the way our democracy works and I feel he should have stayed in his job until he either lost his parliamentary seat or was deselected as party leader. I did not like him as a politician or party leader and hated a lot of his policies, especially his illegal invasion of Iraq.

I enjoy reading a daily newspaper but wasting 20 whole pages on the man leaves job story is beyond me. So on Monday I will take my 70p elsewhere and buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph instead. I also prefer my newspaper to be printed in the broadsheet format rather than a compact so this change will be very easy for me to handle.

So that is an end to an eventful week, one man leaves his job and another man changes his daily newspaper. Shock, horror, don't hold the press.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A new provider on the blogging scene.

Here am I in the UK very happy with blogging and many in society today question the value of blogging. Some people think that blogging is a passing phase and will die out. There are an awful lot of discontinued blogs out there, which is a shame.

I am happy using Blogger the provider of this blog. Today the Daily Telegraph newspaper has launched it's own blogging service. The site is called My Telegraph and is a feature packed portal for blogging.

The Telegraph appears to be trying to develop a social networking site with the accent on getting bloggers to form soft self selecting groups. I will continue with Blogger because I like it's relative independence but I shall lurk around the Telegraph site purely to see how it develops. I think the site owners have a lot of control over the users and they could exercise a lot of moderation. This censorship would be unwelcome as I believe the viewer should be allowed to choose what material is suitable for them to view in the comfort of their own home.

The My Telegraph site is very professionaly designed and a lot of thought has gone into it's useability. It should get an award purely for ease of use.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Doaa Aswad Dekhil..

Patrick Cockburn writes today in The Independent about Doaa Aswad Dekhil...

The stoning to death of a teenage girl belonging to the Yazidi religious sect because she fell in love with a Muslim man has led to a spiral of violence in northern Iraq in which 23 elderly factory workers have been shot dead and 800 Yazidi students forced to flee their university in Mosul.

The killings began with an act of brutality horrific even by Iraqi standards.

A 17-year-old girl called Doaa Aswad Dekhil from the town of Bashika in the northern province of Nineveh converted to Islam. She belonged to the Yazidi religion, a mixture of Islam, Judaism and Christianity as well as Zoroastrian and Gnostic beliefs. The 350,000-strong Kurdish- speaking Yazidi community is centred in the north and east of Mosul and has often faced persecution in the past, being denounced as "devil worshippers".

On 7 April, Doaa returned home after she had converted to Islam in order to marry a Sunni Muslim who was also a Kurd. She had been told by a Sunni Muslim cleric that her family had forgiven her for her elopement and conversion. Instead she was met in Bashika by a large mob of 2,000 people led by members of her family.

What happened next was captured in a mobile phone video. It shows a dark-haired girl dressed in a red track suit top and black underwear with blood streaming from her face. As she tries to rise to her feet she is kicked and hit on the head with a concrete block.

Armed and uniformed police stand by watching her being killed over several minutes. Many in the crowd hold up their phone cameras to record the scene. Nobody tries to help her as she is battered to death.

Retaliation when it came was savage. On 23 April a bus carrying back workers from a weaving factory in Mosul to Bashika, which has a Christian as well as a Yazidi population, was stopped by several cars filled with unidentified gunmen at about 2pm. They asked the Christians to get off the bus, according to the police account. They then took the bus to eastern Mosul city where they lined up the men, mostly elderly, against a wall and shot them to death.

... Why this story has taken so long to come through, I do not know. Nothing can excuse the barbarity of these acts. To stone a person to death for falling in love is an act of evil by ignorant bigots. People have become brainwashed by religion and these acts show just how backward thinking some of humanity lives. When a mob rules like this there is no justice or security. People should have the right to believe what religious ideas they want and to fall in love with whoever they want. No society should stop people from forming relationships with other members of the same area, even if some of their views are different. These religious leaders rather than spreading love and peace are spreading hate and ignorance. It makes me sick when these religious leaders are given credit for the work they do in spreading their hatred against other people. It does not help when some people convert to these faiths and even that cannot save them from the evil spread through religion in our world today. Doaa was yet another victim to this mindless following of religion.

I am disgusted by what has happened to Doaa and other women in Kurdistan. There is little I can do apart from signing the International Campaign against killings and stoning of women in Kurdistan . I am now the 5,616th person to have signed this petition. This petition will not bring Doaa and other victims back but will show governments everywhere what the man in the street thinks of these avoidable tragedies.

This video records the last moments of Doaa Aswad Dekhil's life . It shows the brutality of the Yazidi religion.

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